A History of South Brentwood

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS OF LIVING IN BRENTWOOD

BY LAUREL DAVIDSON
When I moved here from New York in 1961, Brentwood was a very small town. There were no chain stores. There were three markets: Vicente Foods, Pied Piper, where Fazio Cleaners is now, and Westward Ho, located in the space that is now Whole Foods.

The Country Mart was very quaint. It had its own bakery, meat market, a small grocery store, and a deli named Marjans. It was the place to spot celebrities and dine on barbecued chicken and mart fries at Redi Chick.

San Vicente Blvd. had a neighborhood pharmacy called Diebold’s, a hobby shop named Jahn’s, and Bantam Swim School. The best place of all was the Grand Variety Hardware Store, (a glorified 5 & 10 cents store.) I still own the Pilgrim and Turkey candles that I bought there for 25 cents each!
There was a wonderful Pizza Restaurant called Regular Jon’s where Coral Tree Café is today. Neighborhood kids played on a fire truck out in front. All the local schools would have fundraisers there. It was even in a scene from Ferris Buehler’s Day Off.

I have spent my entire adult life in Brentwood, where I met my late husband, Shelly, who lived across the hall from me on Darlington. After we married, we lived on Kiowa. My last move was to my home on South Bundy Drive, where I have lived for 42 years, raising our 2 daughters, Melissa and Joyce there. They attended Brentwood Presbyterian Nursery School, Brentwood Elementary School, (later, Brentwood Science Magnet School), Paul Revere Jr. High School and Palisades High School. I was very active in the PTA’s and Advisory Councils. Vicente Foods was always a great meeting location where we discussed issues while we shopped. It was like a Town Hall Meeting Place with groceries.

It’s hard for me to believe that I’ve called Brentwood my home for 50 years. The Brentwood Community has been a very nurturing place for me. The residents are wonderful and the sense of community is incredible!!

From the Brentwood News Centennial Edition Interview with past SBHA president Bette Harris:

Question: What is the brief history of your community?

According to oral history, SBHA was formed in the late 50’s or early 60’s when oil companies wanted to drill in the area occupied by the Brentwood Country Club. Representatives of a major oil company approached Brentwood property owners and offered each $6 a year for backing and supporting the oil company in this endeavor. Roger W. Davidson was approached by the president of Brentwood Terrace Homeowners Association, who saw drilling as a threat to the way of life in Brentwood. Mr. Davidson was urged to organize homeowners and property owners in South Brentwood to resist the efforts of the oil industry. He did so and became president of what was originally called the South Brentwood Property Owners Association, which encompassed the area bordered by Bundy, Wilshire, Carmelina, Centinela and Montana. Eventually, the oil companies lost interest due to the lack of an adequate supply of high grade oil in the area, and shut down their operation.

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From an Interview with Ron Grant and Benida Solow, November 2010:

South Brentwood Homeowners Association was officially incorporated In the early 1970’s in response to plans to rezone and develop a creek and forested area still referred to as the “Gross Property,” a large parcel located north of Wilshire and west of Wellesley Ave. Ron Grant, in his video interview on this page, highlights the meeting which took place circa 1973, in which developers were defeated in their attempt to rezone all of South Brentwood to R-3, thereby opening up the flood gates for high density apartment and condominium developments from Wilshire north and from west of Bundy to Carmelina and all the way up to Montana. Without this unified force from the community, South Brentwood’s single family neighborhood and environment would have been lost.

There were many, many projects and zoning issues during this period when Marie Lewis, Gordon Treharne, Ben Chaffey, Nancy Jaffe, Jerry Lubin, Ron Grant and Benida Solow were leaders of SBHA. The landmark item during this period was the Brentwood – Pacific Palisades Community Plan (see http://cityplanning.lacity.org/complan/pdf/btwcptxt.pdf) The Brentwood Community Federation, (whcih consisted of the presidents of the many Brentwood homeowners organizations and preceded the current Brentwood Community Council), and of course the SBHA, were instrumental in giving input to the city as this affected zoning, density, traffic.

In the 1980s, the SBHA unsuccessfully fought the height variances required to build tall buildings on Wilshire Blvd., but was instrumental in notifying authorities when buildings under construction on Wilshire dug into the 13-foot sacred Gabriolino Tongva Indian water table and water rushed onto the neighboring streets. (This is why underground parking on Wilshire is not possible!)

In 1994, in response to complaints about heavy traffic and noisy news helicopters following the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman on South Bundy Drive, SBHA represented the community well. The Association thrived under the leadership of Jackie Raymond at this time and for the following eight years, during which time close ties were established with the mayor’s office, the council office, and law enforcement.

The late Stan Lefcourt wrote the following, which was printed in the Brentwood News:

“In order to be successful, an organization needs strong and dedicated leadership. This they found in President Jackie Raymond who served eight years in that position and in her successor Bette Harris, who served seven years as president.

Although plagued by a variety of illnesses that would have permanently sidelined most people, Jackie, the “bionic woman” has served the community in so many areas! Not only was Jackie president of SBHA, but at the same time was president of the Brentwood Community Federation, the organization that preceded the current Brentwood Community Council (BCC). Jackie was a founder and is the perennial president of Brentwood Green, a group that has done wonders in improving all areas of our Brentwood Science Magnet School. Jackie served as a member of the Brentwood Community Council for 13 years from its inception in 1998 until 2011 and is a director of Brentwood 90049.
Bette Harris is no “small potatoes” herself! She was president of the SBHA for seven years during which time she also served as a member and Recording Secretary of the BCC, was active on the Police Community Advisory Board, and was a columnist for the Brentwood News. Bette is currently the Western District Chairperson of the very prestigious Phi Beta Kappa Society, a national honor society. She has also served as president of both the northern and southern PBK alumni associations, which plan educational programs for members, recognize teaching excellence, and provide scholarships for worthy students.”

Present SBRA leadership:

Marylin Krell is the current South Brentwood Residents Association (SBRA) president. Under Marylin’s leadership, SBHA was changed to SBRA to reflect the fact that South Brentwood is home to many multifamily residents who are welcome members in the organization. Recently, with Jackie Raymond’s leadership, South Brentwood school choice was modified to allow South Brentwood children to attend our local school “by right” (see article about Schools in About) Marylin has been a member and Vice Chair of the San Vicente Scenic Corridor Specific Plan Design Review Board for ten years, serves on the board of the BCC, and as a member of the BCC Land Use Committee. Prior to moving to South Brentwood, Marylin was member and chair of the City of Del Mar Design Review Board for four years.

Remembering When

Long time Residents John and Marie Lewis

By Marylin Krell and Nancy Jaffe

Many residents have called South Brentwood home for decades. Marie and John Lewis moved to South Brentwood with their three children in 1959 when it had “nice little houses and apartments,” much less traffic and no speed bumps. Their children attended neighborhood schools and most moms stayed home with the kids.

In the early 60’s, John decided he wanted to own chickens. They bought their first chickens at the Malibu Feed Bin at Topanga Canyon Blvd. on Pacific Coast Highway (The Potter’s Topanga Trading Post of the 1920’s became the Malibu Feed Bin.) Later they ordered the chickens from a catalogue and little chicks were sent out the next day from Oklahoma. They set up a children’s plastic pool and had a chicken coop in their back yard. Friends and neighbors loved the eggs the chickens produced. Once a chicken escaped and the Lewises received a call that their “turkey” was found. In addition to their dozen chickens, the Lewises also had five ducks. They remember that a neighbor who was a physician had a rooster and bees on his property. To comply with regulations that forbade a noisy rooster in a residential area, the doctor surgically removed the rooster’s voice box!

Marie served as Vice President and then President of the South Brentwood Homeowners Association (SBHA preceded SBRA) for several years. As President, she attended meetings of the Brentwood Community Federation while the Brentwood-Pacific Palisades Community Plan was taking shape. (Marie continued to remain an active member of the SBHA board for 20 years until retiring in 2011.)